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Meet the Fuggers

Hans Fugger has been quite the social climber. He moved to Augsburg, Germany in 1366 and married well... twice. He became a mover and shaker within the Weavers Guild and at this time he is listed as the most highly taxed citizen on the rolls. While the occupation of weaver may not seem like much, in the Middle Ages, the Weavers Guild is like the modern-day auto unions of Detroit in their heyday. They make things happen or NOT happen if they don't like how things are going for the Weavers Guild. They are also a source of social unrest so the aristocracy is naturally cautious around them. In Han's leadership role in Weavers Guild, he has managed to win certain civil rights for the membership. In the 16th century the Fugger family will be best known for banking, real estate, and establishing a social welfare system for the elderly but for now they are just rich weavers. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Let's resist the urge to poke fun at the name and talk about their influence. In the Middle Ages as the nobility wanes in influence, the peasant class is waxing in influence and this is just one instance of that happening. Hans Fugger uses his marital connections to gain influence in the leadership of the guild. His sons will use martial connections to become dealers in gold, minting coins and become even richer than their father.

A Marriage Made in... Kindergarten

In an attempt to bring peace between England and France, a marriage is arranged between King Richard II of England (age 29) and Princess Isabella of Valois (age 6), the daughter of Mad King Charles of France. King Richard will be dead long before Isabella will be old enough to consummate the marriage and she will return to France. The 100 Years' War is not over but peace will reign between England and France for a few decades. [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I'm not entirely convinced that the following dialogue is real but I found it in an old history book...

"But she is altogether too young for your majesty," said Richard's counselors. " She is a mere child."

"True," said the king; "but that is an objection which will grow less and less every year. Besides, I am in no haste. I am young enough myself to wait till she grows up, and, in the mean time, I can have her trained and educated to suit me exactly." [10]

This underage marriage seems fairly creepy but it didn't involve sex and in the Middle Ages, amongst the higher nobility, the value of girls were what they represented in terms of land one could control, peasants one could exploit or titles one could inherit. The feelings of the girls themselves were rarely considered. A notable exception was the marriage of Edward the Black Prince and Joan of Kent. That had to be a marriage for love because the Black Prince gained nothing otherwise and that couldn't have happened by accident. [11] [12]

Knight Falls on the Last Hungarian Crusade

The last Bulgarian kingdom has fallen so King Sigismund of Hungary has organized knights from all over Europe to meet the threat of the Ottoman Turks. Sultan Bayezid the 1st marches with his army to meet these knights near the city of Nicopolis in present-day Greece. It is a slaughter. Over 1,000 Crusaders are put to the sword and the rest are enslaved and marched through towns of the Ottoman's vassals as is the custom. The Sultan Bayezid will become quite powerful but he will die in 1402 after being captured by Tamerlane. [13] [14] [15] [16]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is a temptation to portray the Ottoman Turks as a force for evil but they are no more terrible than any other group at this point. In fact as they conquer the lands of the Christians they immediately eliminate feudalism and forced labor. Instead they impose a plow tax.... charging a fee rather than expecting slave labor from the farmers. It is a good change for the Middle Ages. Even the slaves will have opportunities for a reasonable future depending on their ability and level of trust. [17]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1396, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1991. p. 193. (BOOK) quote="The Fuggers come as weavers to Augsburg"
  2. Fugger Family (German family) -- Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com, 2014 [last update]
  3. Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim. (Barbara Tuchman, bio). A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. Ballantine, 1979. p. 39. (BOOK) quote="The textile industry was the automobile industry of the Middle Ages, and Flanders was a hothouse of the tensions and antagonisms brewed in urban society by capitalist development."
  4. Fugger - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  5. Augsburg - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  6. Fuggerei - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  7. Jager, Eric. Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 2014 (BOOK) quote="Richard's underage wife, Isabelle, daughter of the French king, was insultingly sent back to France, just ten years old and still a virgin but already a widow."
  8. Richard II of England - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  9. Isabella of Valois - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  10. Abbott, Jacob. History of King Richard the Third of England. New York: Harper Publishers. 1858. (BOOK)
  11. Edward, the Black Prince - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  12. Joan of Kent - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  13. 1396: Thousands of knights of the Last Crusade, ExecutedToday.com, 2008-Sep-26.
  14. Holt, P. M., Lambton, Ann K., Lewis, Bernard. (editors) Cambridge History of Islam Volume 1, The Central Islamic Lands, The. Cambridge University Press. 1970. ISBN: 978-0521075671. pp. 278-280, 290. (BOOK)
  15. Battle of Nicopolis - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  16. Bayezid I - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  17. Holt, P. M., Lambton, Ann K., Lewis, Bernard. (editors) Cambridge History of Islam Volume 1, The Central Islamic Lands, The. Cambridge University Press. 1970. ISBN: 978-0521075671. pp. 278-280, 290. (BOOK)

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